The clusters showed off their partners: - The most important highlight of the year

The partner conference 2022 gathered around 100 people in the Smart Innovation Arena and engaged the gathering throughout the day with a packed program that engaged, challenged, enlightened and socialized the participants.

A lot of good comes out of physical meetings between people. The Partner Conference 2022 is a good example of this, bringing together partners from Smart Innovation Norway's three clusters, Cluster for Applied AI, NCE Smart Energy Markets and Cluster for Decommissioning and Repurposing.

- This created commitment!

Stian Melhus (in the middle). PHOTO: Anja Lillerud

A central item on the program was the interaction arena.

Using the world cafe method, the participants were able to unleash both creativity, commitment and knowledge in the form of discussions around defined and very real issues.

The aim of the program post was to create a safe meeting place where everyone could share experiences across fields of knowledge.

- When we use the world cafe as a method, we break up the large groups and make it easier for everyone to be heard. This created real commitment, says an enthusiastic Stian Melhus from Smart Innovation Communities.

He was responsible for organizing and implementing the world cafe and points out that one of the most important things about the interaction arena is that you build relationships by solving problems together.

- This creates conversations that would otherwise not come up, and it opens up the participants to listen and build trust between the partners. Many people exchanged business cards during this part of the programme, which suggests that it was an arena for creating relationships as much as solving problems, says Melhus.

- A fun way to work

A meeting place for venting and discussing challenges has been in demand among municipalities, cluster partners and portfolio companies that Smart Innovation Norway collaborates with. The interaction arena is a measure to meet the need.

During the Partner Conference, the municipalities Marker and Halden and the technology company Ophion from Fredrikstad were able to present their challenges to the participants.

The challenge from Halden municipality concerned mobility opportunities in connection with a large sports arena that is under construction in the city centre. Marker municipality brought an issue around energy to the table, and Ophion wanted input on financing solutions for their pilot project for sensors that detect leaks in water supply networks.

Ronny Andersen from Ophion.

Ronny Andersen from Ophion appreciated all the input that the rest of the conference brought.

- The commitment was great and the ideas many. The suggestions are good, and although there were some approaches that I was initially perhaps a bit skeptical about, I became convinced during the world cafe that they are interesting nonetheless. This was very helpful, he said and continued:

- This has given us some very good contacts that it will be exciting to talk to in the near future.

 Pål Warset works on a daily basis as a sales manager at the water data company Intoto. He was at the world cafe as a participant and worked on the challenge for Halden municipality.

- It was very interesting with so many different people working on the same task and across national borders. A very fun way to work, he concluded afterwards.

Watch video from the conference:

Content-rich conference

The total of around 100 people who participated digitally and physically had a rich day with three interesting lectures.

Jan Fredrik Beck-Bjørntvedt is a committed lecturer.

NRK's Jan Fredrik Beck-Bjørntvedt gave a terrific presentation based on the collaboration NRK had with former paddler Eirik Verås Larsen on how to win Olympic gold. Beck-Bjørntvedt explained how the theory of becoming the best in the world can be transferred to business and social life.

CEO of Nord Pool, Tom Darell, traveled to Halden to give the conference participants the latest news from the power market and the electricity price situation.

Fred Martin Langøy from the cluster partner Smart Energy Systems AS and the battery company Hreinn talked about exciting plans for what will be one of Norway's first battery factories.

In addition, the day offered presentations by various cluster partners, a summary of the year for Smart Innovation Norway's three clusters, information about Smart Innovation's expertise broker and EU network, good social breaks, lunch, a panel discussion and the selection of the cluster partners of the year 2022.

The award ceremony was the last item on the agenda. The secrecy surrounding the selection is great, and the joy and surprise of the winners is correspondingly great.

This year's winner in the Cluster for Applied AI was Simula Consulting AS, while Smart Energy Systems AS went top with NCE Smart Energy Markets.

Fv Inge Bilet (NCE Smart Energy Markets), Fred Martin Langøy (Smart Energy Markets AS), Eli Haugerud (Head and Smart Innovation Communities), Anders Aamodt and Elias Myklebust (Simula Consulting AS) and Marianne Jansson Bjerkman (Cluster for Applied AI) . PHOTO: Anja Lillerud

- A fantastic arena

The aim of the Partner Conference is to create a meeting place for the cluster partners of CAAI, NCE SEM and the DECOM cluster. But a content-rich program does not come by itself, and preparations for the Partner Conference take a long time.

- This day is the most important highlight of the year where we focus on those who build this environment that we are so happy and proud of, points out Head of Smart Innovation Communities, Eli Haugerud, and emphasizes that she has a large group with her both on stage and behind the scenes.

Eli Haugerud summarized the year that has passed for the three clusters Cluster for Applied AI, NCE Smart Energy Markets and Cluster for Decommissioning and Repurposing. PHOTO: Anja Lillerud

The repeated good turnout for the conference shows that the cluster partners appreciate a whole day of useful lectures and presentations, and valuable socialising.

The data center company Storespeed from Halden has been a member of the NCE SEM cluster since 2017, and founder and managing director John Ragnar Amundsen is one of those who prioritizes being part of the Partner conference.

- I participate to become better known. Just by being present here, we have managed to make very valuable and good contacts with other partner companies, and that gives a synergy that we think is very exciting, he says.

Amundsen has made active use of the cluster network in many ways, which has contributed to Storespeed delivering several major results.

- The cluster is a fantastic arena for being able to collaborate with companies that are interested in what we do. It's a fantastic environment to be in, he says.

- Meets relevant companies and people

Another partner is the consulting company Amesto NextBridge. There, Vincent Aardalsbakke is head of AI and new technologies, and he sees great value in cluster membership on behalf of his employer and himself.

Vincent Aardalsbakke from Amesto NextBridge. PHOTO: Anja Lillerud

- We want to be present where relevant people and companies are. It was therefore natural for us to become a member of the Cluster for Applied AI because here there are many people who want the same thing and help each other to achieve their goals. A large part of my job is to be out and about and take in needs and trends in order to be able to convert them into skills and plans for employees, and in that way the Partner Conference is fantastic. There are many businesses here and many different elements. It allows you to introduce yourself and make new acquaintances, and this is much of the point of cluster business as I see it, he says.

The state agency Norwegian Nuclear Decommissioning (NND) is tasked with decommissioning the country's nuclear facilities and storing radioactive waste in a safe manner. NND is one of the founders of the DECOM cluster and sees the cluster work as a central part of the work to build up a knowledge network around decommissioning.

- If we get partners who work together with us and take part in the knowledge and expertise we build up, we can create new and green industries with export opportunities abroad. We cannot do it ourselves as we are a government agency, but we want to help establish a network that can create more than the green lawn that we deliver from us when we are done with decommissioning. We create that network through the DECOM cluster, says sector director of communications, Martin Andreasson, in NND.